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Do children get to decide which parent they live with?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Child Custody

Children sometimes have a preference about where they live after a divorce. This can worry parents. You may want to get custody of your child, but you may be afraid that they will choose to live with your ex.

But do children even have the ability to make this decision? It would certainly give them a lot of power during the divorce case. Let’s look at how this may apply in some situations.

Age makes a difference

First and foremost, not all children are even asked for their opinion. Young children typically won’t be. Those who are in their teens may be given more of a voice if the court feels that they are mature enough to understand the situation and have a valid opinion.

The court can still make a different ruling

Furthermore, even when a child does have an opinion or request, that doesn’t mean the court has to honor it. The child’s wishes are but one factor the court must consider when making a determination about what is in the child’s best interests.

For example, maybe you have a 13-year-old child who says they only want to live with your ex. But they can’t provide a good reason for it, and the court believes that it would be detrimental to their relationship with you if you didn’t have any custody rights. Therefore, the court would likely divide custody and parenting time between you and your ex, despite the child’s wishes.

A complex situation

There is a specific process by which the court receives the information about the child’s wishes. Take the time to carefully look into all of the legal options that you have at your disposal.